Caught in the Dream of Empire: U.S. Power from the Borderlands to Central America and the Caribbean

For much of its history, the United States has fostered the dream of building an empire. From visions of the Empire of Liberty to Manifest Destiny and the expansion westward, colonizing native peoples and increasing Washington’s dominion at the expense of Mexico. In 1893, as Frederick Jackson Turner’s observation that the “frontier” had closed in U.S. society, this did not mean a cessation in a desire for expansion and control of new territory. The Monroe Doctrine grouped the entire Western Hemisphere under the aegis of the United States, Americans sought to command economic and political opportunities in the region. The result of this policy had far-reaching social, political, and economic ramifications for the other countries involved.[1]

In the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, as the frontier became the border, the United States expanded its notions of what an American empire should encompass in terms of ideas and territory. This growing imperial dragnet ensnared elite Nicaraguans with modernizing dreams, a savvy island dictator who hoped to “blanche” his realm, and the Chinese diasporic community in the Republic of Panama. Studying how local elites and non-elites viewed American power, and interacted with it, reveals the dynamic movement and complexity of ideas related to empire as they were transmitted between “periphery” and “metropole.” Continue reading

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Borderlands History Interview Project Presents Dr. Anthony P. Mora

This is the third installment of the Borderlands History Interview Project (BHIP), a series that showcases the voices of respected historians in the field to discuss their current projects and views on the future of borderlands history.

While in the Ethnic Studies suite of the Department of American Culture, I had the opportunity to chat with Anthony Mora, Associate Professor of History, Latina/o Studies, and American Culture at the University of Michigan. We conversed about his current work as well as his thoughts on the state of/on borderlands history. Since this interview took place on a Friday, Dr. Mora and I had the whole Ethnic Studies suite to ourselves, providing us a space to engage in a great discussion about borders, borderlands, and bordered lands as well as the interconnections between borderlands and Chicano/a history.

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Reflections: RMCLAS 2015

The annual meeting of the Rocky Mountain Council for Latin American Studies (RMCLAS) brought scholars to Tucson, Arizona for four days of insightful conversation, networking, and professional development. This year’s conference, held April 8-11 at the Marriot on the campus of the University of Arizona, was especially beneficial for students of the U.S.-Mexico borderlands.

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Conference Notes: Nuestra América: Rethinking Fronteras in US History, A Conference Honoring the Career of Vicki L. Ruiz

Women’s History Month is slowly coming to a close. This month the Borderlands History Interview Project chose to focus on the career of Vicki L. Ruiz, a pioneer in women’s history of the borderlands. We were not the only ones who thought to celebrate Ruiz. The University of California, Irvine’s convocation of the Nuestra América: Rethinking Fronteras in US History, A Conference Honoring the Career of Vicki L. Ruiz sought to do just that! What follows is a brief recounting of the conference and a discussion of the influence Ruiz continues to have in the academy.

At the Nuesta América conference, Dr. Margie Brown-Coronel asked the audience “What Would Vicki Do (WWVD)?” Well, she’d do a lot. She’s the outgoing president of the Organization of American Historians and the current president of the American Historical Association. In the past Vicki Ruiz was president of the Pacific Coast Branch of the AHA, the Berkshire Conference of Women Historians, and the American Studies Association. What else would she do? She authored and edited over a dozen books and articles on the history of Mexican-American women and men in the United States. In 2012, she was the first Latina to be inducted into the Academy of Arts and Sciences. At the end of March, Ruiz will be celebrated by the National Women’s History Project as a Women’s History month honoree. Her scholarship would center the lives of Chicanas and Latinas in the United States history and foreground the importance of the borderlands in this larger narrative. While her career, scholarship, and service have garnered the attention of the academy for decades, her teaching and mentorship also reveal all that Vicki has done and continues to do. Continue reading

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Parents of 43 Mexican Student Kidnaping Victims begin United States Tour in El Paso, Texas

A group representing the parents of the 43 students kidnapped in late September in Guerrero, Mexico will visit El Paso on Monday, March 16 and Tuesday, March 17 to speak to about their children’s experiences and about the human rights violations occurring in Mexico.

The parent’s visit to El Paso forms part of a national speaking tour of the United States Continue reading

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Remembering Camille Guérin-Gonzales

“Camille Guérin-Gonzales died on Tuesday, Feb. 24, 2015, at Agrace Hospice Care in Madison, after 14 months of living exuberantly, purposefully, and consciously with a cancer diagnosis that she never let define her…”

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Borderlands History Interview Project Presents Dr. Vicki L. Ruiz

On Friday, February 13, 2015, I had the privilege and distinct honor of interviewing Dr. Vicki Ruiz, Chicana scholar, historian, and professor at the University of California, Irvine. This was the second interview in our Borderlands History Interview Project (BHIP) and it was marvelous. We discussed her views on balancing work and life, her current projects, her take on borderlands history and its significance within the canon, as well as critical intersections between race, gender, and class within our scholarship and the academy.

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Crossing an Uneven Terrain: Capital, Labor, and State Power in the U.S.-Mexico Borderlands

The U.S.-Mexico border is a region of overlapping contact zones, an interstitial space where economic, political, social, cultural, and individual exchanges occur across the international boundary on a daily basis. Amid this personal and communal fluidity, however, the border also exists as an entity fixed by diplomatic treaty, militarization, and police enforcement as government agencies erect physical barriers for the abstract lines drawn across this area of North America. While state surveillance and regulation seek to make the region divisible, it is a project contested by the millions of undocumented immigrants, and others, who regularly defy its reductive processes. How the border is viewed and the vantage point from which it is observed are important subjective factors in a discussion of this area. In many ways, for the people who actually live in the borderlands, the national debate emanating from Washington and Mexico City can often appear astoundingly detached from the exigencies of everyday life. Continue reading

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UTEP Borderlands Conference Call For Papers EXTENDED

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Book Review: Riding Lucifer’s Line

Riding Lucifer’s Line. Ranger Deaths along the Texas-Mexico Border. By Bob Alexander. (Denton: University of North Texas Press, 2013. Pp. xxvi +404. Illustrations, notes, bibliography, index. $29.95 hardback)

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Much can be discerned about any organization through its members or employees, in this case the Texas Rangers. Personal histories provide unique insights that so often supplement the more mundane but nonetheless necessary bureaucratic and institutional overlay. In the case of Bob Alexander’s Riding Lucifer’s Line, the book’s subtitle Ranger Deaths along the Texas-Mexico Border provides an intimate insight into the unique personal histories that he will detail in the book. The author also describes the subtitle as “purposefully unambiguous.” Continue reading

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